I am going to Kenya. I write all the time about bucket list trips, and one of mine has always been an African safari, to see the Big 5, to hug a baby elephant. And through a stroke of luck and a good idea, it’s coming true. Yes, I’m going to Kenya.
How did this come about, you ask? I’ll tell you because I can’t believe it.
It all started with an elephant. One of my suppliers who I use frequently for trips to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa sponsored a baby elephant in support of conservation efforts in Kenya. They had a contest back in July for travel advisors to name it. The lucky winner would win an all-expense paid trip to Kenya to meet the little girl and travel around to experience the beauty and hospitality of that amazing country. I sent in my submission and forgot about it.
And I won. For once, I had a good idea. That idea was “Tumaini” which means hope in Swahili. So on November 11 I will depart JFK airport for what I hope will be the adventure of a lifetime – to hug Tumaini and smuggle her back home (ok, maybe not that last thing).
But before I go, there is a lot of preparation that goes into a trip like this. I’ll cover packing another time, but I want to share with you some of the preparations that I have been making before I leave in just under 2 weeks.
Vaccine requirements to travel are nothing new. African countries have long required a set of vaccines to enter. In my case, I needed to get the Yellow Fever vaccine. This is the one shot that is a must. The good thing, however, is that it is one-and-done. Once you have it, you have it for life.
Yellow fever vaccines cannot be obtained just anywhere. You can’t walk into your primary care physician and get one. Only authorized providers are allowed to administer them. I went to a travel medicine clinic called Passport Health where they were wonderful in giving me a booklet of general travel advice for Kenya. I may be a travel agent, but I am always learning.
Cholera and typhoid vaccines are also recommended, but cholera currently isn’t being manufactured and typhoid is recommended more for people there on long-term stays, such as for humanitarian work, so I declined that one. I did also get a Hepatitis A vaccine since that can be transmitted through food or water.
Additionally, I made sure I was up to date on my TDAP booster. Those are recommended every 10 years, but it has been way longer than that for me.
Finally, while I don’t need to take any sort of COVID test to enter the country, I do need to be up to date on my COVID vaccines which I am. I entered my vaccination card online and generated a vaccination certificate and QR code to be presented upon entry.
Kenya requires a visa to enter the country. It’s an incredibly simple process – I visited https://evisa.go.ke/evisa.html and did the entire thing online. I needed to upload a copy of my passport, a passport photo, an itinerary, and flight information. The cost was $51. I filled it out on a Friday afternoon and by Monday morning had my approval.
While travel protection is recommended for any trip, Kenya requires that you purchase a policy for entry. I purchased Travel Guard’s Preferred policy which has been my go-to policy for years for my family’s travels.
Travel protection covers not only cancellation for covered reasons, but provides medical coverage if you get ill or injured while traveling, baggage loss or delay, trip delay or interruption, and so much more. While credit cards often provide some sort of travel protection, that policy should always be treated as supplemental and not as your primary policy.
Like so many others, I do use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea. In most places, it’s not an issue, but Kenya and other African countries can be trickier. Many safari lodges and camps turn off the power at night to conserve energy, or there are sometimes power glitches. As a result, CPAP users may have issues using their machines. Guests should always contact their lodgings in advance to find out if they will have power or need to bring a battery with them. Since I will be staying in a tented camp for part of the visit and know I will not have power at night, I ordered THIS battery to take with me.
I have never had a problem carrying my machine on the plane as an exception to the carry-on luggage restrictions. However, it’s hard to tell from Kenya Airways’ website if the same policy applies and as of this writing, I’ve been having issues getting through to them for clarification.
Kenya is one country where US Dollars (USD) are widely used in addition to the local currency which is the Kenyan Shilling (KSh). It’s preferred that the safari guides and hotel staff are tipped in USD, plus certain attractions such as hot air balloon rides only accept USD as payment. I will be taking a combination of both – USD and KSh with me. I’ll only take a small amount of KSh since I can easily get money from the ATM at the Nairobi airport upon arrival. The KSh I can order through my bank for 2-day delivery. Credit cards are widely used in Nairobi, but not so much as you get further out in the country.
I never recommend the use of currency exchanges at the airport because you will always get an unfavorable exchange rate.
When any of my clients travel, I put their entire itinerary into an app that they can view on their phones. Naturally, I did the same for my trip so all my trip information is now at my fingertips.
Next week we’ll talk about how I pack for this trip because it is definitely different from any trip I have packed for in the past.
Want to see my itinerary? Click HERE to check it out. Call me if you want to talk about organizing your dream safari bucket list vacation for your family!
Congratulations! That’s a great story. Looking forward to following along.
Thank you! This is a complete bucket list item. My camera will get quite the workout.
This sounds like a great trip! Congrats on winning the trip to meet the baby elephant! In 2014 my husband and myself celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with a trip of a lifetime to Africa. We spent 5 weeks there and were in Tanzania climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and we even summited! We then went on a safari to Lake Manyara, Ngorogoro Carter and the Serengeti! It was amazing and we saw the big 5 animals. Our guide was great and he knew the areas very well and went out of his way to make sure we were able to see the big 5. At the Lake Manyara we saw a herd of elephants and just loved watching the babies feed and spray water on themselves. It was truly a trip of a lifetime! Enjoy your time there!!
5 weeks! That sounds amazing! I’ve always wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro but I’ll have to settle for doing it vicariously through others.
Sounds exciting! Please keep us informed!!
Thank you! Make sure you follow One World Family Travel on Facebook – I’ll be posting updates!